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Politics

Somali prime minister forms government

Somalia’s prime minister has announced the members of a new government charged with restoring peace to a land ravaged by civil war for the past two decades. Small in number, the cabinet includes two women.

Somali Premier Abdi Farah Shirdon revealed the names of members for his new cabinet on Sunday, promising to help the country recover from two decades without a functioning central government.

"After long discussions and consultations, I have named my cabinet which consists of only ten members," Shirdon said. "Among them is a female foreign affairs minister for the first time in Somali history."

Newly appointed Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon (Photo: Reuters)

Shirdon himself is new to politics, having previously been a businessman

A previous cabinet, serving a transitional government was made up of 18 members, whose mandate came to an end in August. Shirdon said his new, leaner administration would restore security and rebuild the country's shattered economy.

As well as Foreign Minister Fowziya Yusuf Aden, Shirdon made a second female appointment, naming former interim government adviser Maryan Qasim as Public Services Development Minister.

Speaking about her appointment, Aden acknowledged it had been a landmark moment.

"My nomination as the foreign minister is historic for the Somali country and particularly for the women of Somalia, it turns a new page for the political situation of our country and will lead to success and prosperity," she said.

The government faces the tall order of restoring the rule of law after the two decades of violence that followed the 1991 toppling of President Siad Barre.

Backed by African Union (AU) troops, the administration is currently fighting al Shabaab, a group of militants Islamist rebels who have been linked with al Qaeda.

The AU force has proved effective in driving al Shabaab from its urban strongholds including the capital, Mogadishu, over the last 15 months.

Shirdon, a newcomer to politics who is married to prominent peace activist Asha Haji Elmi, was named the country's prime minister in early October by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

rc/hc (AP, AFP)